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Trade and social life – Danish-Dutch contacts in seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

A project supported by VELUX FONDEN 2015-2018.
Fisheries and Maritime Museum/Center for Maritime and Business History.

A research and communication project based on Danish–Dutch contacts in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The aim of the project “Trade and social life in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries” is to create a collaboration forum based on a shared empirical field and extending over three years, with interplay between the provision of research results and their dissemination and communication to a wider audience. The project personnel are researchers and communicators at universities and museums.

For further information


Mette Guldberg
Museumsinspektør, ph.d.
Phonenumber +45 7612 2023

Center of early globalization

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Amsterdam was one of the centers of early globalization; ships from all over the world arrived with exotic goods, trade and crafts were thriving, people of all nations thronged the streets, and the sheer scale of the city was famous elsewhere. Therefore, the Netherlands and especially Amsterdam, loomed in the consciousness of people and in countless ways influenced everyday life in Denmark. How was the interaction between the rich Netherlands and Denmark, the peripheral neighbor to the north? What did this Dutch connection mean to ordinary people?

The project is structured around two main projects and five small projects. The principal idea is that while the two main projects describe the general circumstances and the larger picture, the small projects will function as detailed empirical investigations which will throw light on the general issues and contribute detailed empirical material. In this way, each level will constantly challenge the conclusions of the other and will contribute to deepening the understanding of the connection between the larger picture on the one hand and the empirical micro-level on the other. The studies are dealing with a period where source material is often widely dispersed and where information must be sought in many different, not always self-evident, sources. The collaboration between researchers and communicators with different backgrounds and working on different levels on the same field with a common general approach is a significant source of synergy.


The project is based at The Fisheries and Maritime Museum in Esbjerg, Denmark and Centre for Maritime and Business History, University of southern Denmark. The project has received support from the VELUX FONDEN.

The seven sub-projects

Asger Nørlund Christensen, PhD student at the University of Southern Denmark.
Maritime cultural exchange between Denmark and the Netherlands.

This project will investigate how the maritime-cultural relations were between Denmark-Norway and the Netherlands and what traces these connections had in the two countries. This is achieved by using source material from Danish, Norwegian, English and Dutch archives as well as drawing on the marine archaeological finds that have been made in the last 20 years.

Max Petersen. MSc. and author.
The forgotten emigrants. Networks, integration and cultural identity in the Danish migrant communites in Amsterdam in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

In certain periods in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Amsterdam had a Danish immigrant community of 2,000–3,000 persons. The city’s Danish community was thus bigger than most Danish towns of the time. While the emigration to America of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is common knowledge, the fact that tens of thousands of Danes emigrated to Holland in the previous centuries has slipped our collective memory.

Mette Guldberg, PhD and curator at the Fisheries and Maritime Museum in Esbjerg.
Shipping and harbour structure on the northern Wadden Sea coast in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The study will examine shipping between Holland and the northern Wadden Sea coast from Tönning in the south to Varde in the north. This stretch of coast was part of what was called “The Little East.” What characterised shipping on this – for Amsterdam – slightly peripheral neighbouring coast?

Christina Folke Ax, PhD and curator at The National Museum of Denmark
Danish dress customs and Dutch influence.

On the basis of the National Museum’s dress collection, the project will examine the occurrence of Dutch elements in Danish everyday and festive clothing and reconstruct the context in which it was used for the purpose of establishing the Dutch influence on the broad population’s lives and cultural self-image.

Elsemarie Dam Jensen, MA and chief curator at Museum Sønderjylland.
Trade along the Schleswig Wadden Sea coast with particular attention to the emergence of Dutch tiles.

The Dutch tiles which are still found on the walls of many homes in south-western Jutland stand as a symbol of the contact with Holland and they are one of few long-term cultural expressions of this contact. This project seeks to clarify the circumstances behind these importations, inter alia by visiting Dutch colleagues and obtaining their assistance to go through Museum Sønderjylland’s tile collections.

Martin Rheinheimer, professor, Dr. habil and head of Department of History at University of Southern Denmark.
A seaman’s family’s contact to Amsterdam.

The starting point for this project is a unique and hitherto unused collection of letters left by the seaman Ipke Peters from the Schleswig Wadden Sea island of Oland. Peters was mate and later captain sailing from Amsterdam. His correspondence both with the owner of his ship in Amsterdam and with his wife in the period 1785–1795 has been preserved. His wife’s letters are among the earliest known letters from a seaman’s wife.

Asbjørn Holm. Teacher and museum communicator at the Fisheries and Maritime Museum in Esbjerg.
Presentation of historical persons and their life-histories at museums and out in the landscape.

The various personal histories that the other sub-projects will reveal, instantly appeal to the museum guest and can provide a strong and vibrant museum experience.
However, it may be difficult to accurately strike the “tone” that allows identification with the historical persons to take place. The project will investigate and develop methods to convey the life stories of historical persons, in the museum as well as in the landscape and will address questions of both learning situations and outreach to the generally interested public.

Advisory Board

In order to maintain a high standard of research and to apply the newest developments in this field, an international advisory board has been established. Members of the group are:

Jelle van Lottum, Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands, NL

Thijs Maarleveld, Maritime Archaeology, University of Southern Denmark, DK

Mikkel Venborg Pedersen, The National Museum of Denmark, DK

Carsten Porskrog Rasmussen, Museum of Southern Jutland, DK

Ruth Schilling, Deutsche Schiffahrtsmuseum, DE

Jan Willem Veluwenkamp, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, NL

Lasse Hollbaum Vinther, Center for Undervisningsmidler, UC Syddanmark, DK

Diederick Wildeman, het Scheepvaartmuseum, Amsterdam, NL

Activities and publications

List of activities

List of publications

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